Controversial Corvallis Development

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Walgreens, among other businesses, is one step closer coming to Corvallis, if the city council’s retail center approval is finalized. But not everyone is supportive of the proposal, mostly because of its proximity to a wetland area.

This week, Celebration Church of Corvallis is selling fireworks on the northwest corner of Philomath Boulevard and 53rd Street. But volunteers say they are not sure if they will be back next year because of a development proposal on the same property where they seasonally rent.

On Monday night, the Corvallis City Council approved the newest proposal for the construction of a shopping center on the site.

ThomasFox Properties of Utah owns the piece of land, and the company wants to build a large retail center. The project title, Creekside Plaza, would have approximately 40,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. The Corvallis City Council approved the company’s first development plan in 2010, but the League of Women Voters appealed the project to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

The League of Women Voters says it is not opposed to development on the corner of the intersection; however, the group is against the idea of a  public path on the northern piece of the property. ThomasFox Properties says as part of its initial plan, to receive credit to increase the square footage of development, it proposed developing a city path along Dunawi Creek. The League of Women Voters says the wetland area through which Dunawi Creek runs is home to rare ash trees. The group says the trees provide shade to reduce the creek’s water temperature, act as a filter for pollutants, and reduce down-stream flooding.

Bret Fox with ThomasFox Properties says since the appeal, the company has hired many professionals to work on a new proposal. Fox says company owners, attorneys, architects, and engineers have worked together for years to draw up different plans. The new construction proposal moves farther away from the creek bed.

“So many people have worked really hard to make it a nice development,” Fox said. “We just hope it will be well-received by the community.”

Penny York, City Councilor for the ward in which the site is located, says she is supportive of the retail center. However, the idea of a path is still open for discussion, but she says the City will continue with the project’s proposal unless somebody else appeals it.

“Rather than developing the path, they put the funds into escrow,” York said. “We hold them until a decision is made, whether or not to go with the path as planned.”

York says the City has a window of six years to use the funds that ThomasFox Properties will provide. She says if the City agrees not to build a path, the company will be reimbursed.

The League of Women Voters says it will likely not appeal the new agreement. Members say though they are disappointed that the idea of building a path has not been entirely eliminated, they are glad that the demise of the path proposal is still being considered.

Fox says when the company originally proposed its development plans, Walgreens was a likely tenant. However, three years has since passed, and Fox says there is no guarantee that Walgreens or other retailers will still be on board.

Although the council approved the project Monday night, the decision will not be finalized until the City completes a formal findings review of the approval, which is scheduled for discussion at the council’s meeting on August 5.

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